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Making the most of BIO Convention

By pharma3dadmin May 6, 2022

It’s almost that time of the year again. One of the biggest events dedicated to life sciences partnering will be upon us soon. It can be an immense opportunity to showcase your company and product pipeline. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran itching to return to in-person meetings or a newly minted BD scout who’s a bit nervous about your first time, there are key preparations and practices that will make your BIO week much more fruitful.

Per our experience attending many of these events, and based on feedback from industry leaders on how they make it effective, we’ve outlined some best practices.

Start planning early

The BIO convention week arrives in the first half of June every year. Other than a once-in-a-century pandemic, there’s a very good chance that the world of life sciences will gather for exhibitions and face-to-face meetings at the venue of BIO’s choosing. So an organization that plans to attend can get ahead of the game and get itself ready, hence avoiding last minute chaos and frustrations. Here are some key practices to use as sanity check:

  • Save the date. As the new year starts, monitor the BIO website for announcement of convention dates and venue.  
  • Align your team. Begin compiling the list of your delegates who will attend.
  • Find a place to stay. As soon as dates are announced, book your accommodations – and ensure they are refundable.  As the number of attendees may change, it’s good to keep reservations flexible.
    • Depending on the city, where you book your hotels will make a big difference.  If you’re in a city with public transportation or a good walkability score, then you don’t have to book close to the venue.  Otherwise, in search of budget-friendly accommodations, you will likely end up paying Uber even more.  
  • Clear your calendars. Make sure there no major events or conflicting agendas during BIO week, in anticipation of partnering meetings.

Plan your partnering days 

This event lasts for 4 days. The partnering meetings generally start from the second half of the Monday and wrap up mid-day Thursday.  Aside from the business forum where 1-1 meetings take place, there is an expansive exhibition hall, and programming that includes numerous educational sessions and company showcases.  You can easily spend 4 days browsing all the exhibits and attending as many sessions as possible.  So given that your primary objective is partnering, you will have to align your agenda accordingly.  We recommend the following practices to avoid distractions and keep your sanity:

  • Calibrate your calendar.  Determine which days and hours you want to dedicate to partnering meetings vs. other activities.  Depending on the number of attendees your company sends, break down how many meetings each one can take.  If you were to fill up every possible slot, it’s possible to take over 20 meetings in a day.  Whether that’s an effective strategy depends on what you’re trying to achieve – are you looking to get pitch time with as many companies as possible, or will there be some substantive meetings that require preparation and relaxed demeanor.
  • Get familiar with the partnering system.  BIO provides a pretty modern and nifty platform for scheduling your meetings (it’s literally called the One-on-One Partnering™ system).  If you’re not used to it though, it can take a bit of orientation to utilize it effectively.  You can utilize the system to landscape and search potential partners, open up your calendar and send/receive/adjust meeting requests.  You can also communicate with the other party directly through the messaging feature in the system.  BIO usually organizes a training webinar, we’d recommend attending.   We’d be happy to engage and help you prepare.  
  • Send out meeting requests early and often.  There’s a misconception in the industry that if you’re a big enough pharma, you can just sit back and let the meeting requests come to you.  That is not an advisable approach from our experience.  If there’s a company you’re interested in meeting, make the move.  It’s likely that an upstart biotech will generate lots of interest and your competitors are chasing it also.  You don’t want to miss out.  Likewise, if you’re a biotech or CxO service provider, you know there are many others vying for attention from pharma, so get in your request ASAP.

Prepare your pitch

Each 1-1 meeting slot at the convention is half-hour, with a 5-minute buffer at the end of each slot – giving you 25 minutes of facetime.  In many instances, one of the parties is running late.  So it’s conceivable that you’ll only have 15 – 20 minutes for actual conversation.  You don’t want to be fiddling with folders and looking for presentations, and take away even more of this limited time.  To be unfazed by this challenge, we recommend the following preparations:

  • Prepare your deck.  Keep your deck to 3 slides, highlighting who you are, what you have to offer, why there is synergy between your companies.  Get our template
  • Practice your delivery. As each minute of the meeting is precious, you don’t have time for fluff.  Do a dry run in front of the mirror.  Record yourself, or rehearse with your team – then revise.  Rinse and repeat until you’re confident with your performance.  
  • Perform an unforgettable pitch. Keep your talking points corresponding to 3 slides in your deck and stay disciplined.  If there’s a sense that you’re losing your audience, still keep at it; we all tend to try and read faces and expressions – don’t.  Especially with the international crowd, not every body language or expression has the same (or any specific) meaning.  If you get lots of questions, that’s a good thing.  You’ve now opened up a channel to follow up.

Leave a lasting impression

The companies you’re meeting with have seen or will see many other potential partners during these 4 days.  What will make you stand out?  A great pitch is always the hook; you want to also set the anchor that will keep you attached to the desired company until it’s the right time to initiate partnering discussions.  

  • Leave a parting gift.  Convert the 3-slide deck into a leaflet/fact sheet and “personalize” it for each company.  This is much more valuable than a generic brochure that reads like a Google search.  Also, it will be much appreciated because you’re helping your BD counterpart make the business case.  
  • Connect on LinkedIn.  It is becoming a default business networking platform, and is more reputable than most social media.  It will allow you to share relevant company news, without mixing in your vacation pics.
  • Follow up at other events.  While BIO is one of the largest partnering events, there are many others that take place throughout the year.  Take the opportunity to connect with your counterparts at as many as possible – it will help nurture the relationship and keep up-to-date with strategies and pipelines.  
  • Share new developments.  And these don’t have to be major milestones in your asset pipeline.  Through LinkedIn or other media, and also direct emails, share the happenings in your company that may trigger a dialogue – these could be new publications by a R&D scientist, on-boarding of a new board member, hiring of a new executive, etc.

The BIO Convention is a huge investment, both in terms of time and budget, so putting in place these key practices will maximize your ROI.  We’ve created step-by-step templates for boosting success rate at BIO convention – engage with us.